The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Client Spotlight:
Locust Grove Farm Smokehouse and County Store
Locust Grove Farm Smokehouse and Country Store in Argyle has been slaughtering and butchering since 1973, and thanks to some help from HVADC, was finally able to update the building that was built when they first started cutting meat there.
Locust Grove is a USDA meat processing facility with the ‘Animal Welfare Approved’ seal, operating in a minimally stressful environment. Their primary customers are farms who they serve by providing slaughtering, butchering, packaging and labeling services and process roughly six to ten beef, and anywhere from eight to 20 pigs weekly. They also sell meats, eggs, fresh local dairy and ice cream in their store and have mail-order business as well.
Owner Dean Tripp has been working in the family business since he was ten years old alongside his brother Bill and their father—right up until their father’s death. Tripp went to work fulltime in the slaughterhouse when he graduated high school and has been there ever since. “My father worked right until he died; he took one week in the house, a week in the hospital and then he was gone,” he said. Lately Tripp’s son Adam has taken over the slaughter end, and Tripp finds himself in the office doing administrative duties.
HVADC Deputy Director Mary Ann Johnson said that HVADC was able to assist Locust Grove through its Incubator Without Walls program, and helped the operation create a strategic plan for expansion, financial planning for the project, and assist in the preparation of the loan and grant documents that were required to expand the building, get equipment and make important upgrades. “HVADC made it so that we can do more than one thing at a time,” said Tripp.
Tripp explained that the facility went from two small coolers that could only manage 600 pounds together, to an increased capacity of 1,000 pounds at a time. “We get new customers every week,” Said Tripp. “A lot of new farmers starting up, and dairy farmers who are switching over to beef cows—everyone wants natural, grass-fed beef and they are all jumping on it.”
In addition to adding a 13x30 foot cooler, they expanded the footprint of the building and rebuilt it—gutting it down to the studs and starting from scratch, Tripp emphasized. They then installed new walls, rewired the electrical infrastructure and updated the amperage from 200 to 600 to accommodate the modern-day equipment demands. Tripp said they are currently developing a barter arrangement for new floors.
Laura Oswald, director of Economic Development in Washington County, helped to connect Locust Grove with what they needed for their growth spurt. “Locust Grove had growth opportunity they could not meet with their current equipment and space in the facility; so they determined that capital improvements to the building would help them meet increased demand for processing from local farmers,” she said. “They were also able to improve their retail sales area which, with the increased production capacity, means they now have the capacity to serve local retail and on-line retail. They expanded their smoke room-- and I must say I picked up some bacon to go with my fresh tomatoes for those all-important summertime BLT's - best BLT ever!-- We are pleased that they were able to secure funding for the project from the Washington County Local Development Corp. The LDC assists our local businesses with financing for their projects that might be difficult to secure thorough conventional banking channels. It is a win-win as businesses such as Locust Grove get access to capital, and we see economic re-investment into our communities, job creation, and great smoked meats.”
For more information about how HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls program helps farms such as Locust Grove, visit https://www.hvadc.org/iww.
For more information on Locust Grove, please visit their website at http://www.locustgrovesmokehouse.net.
Photo/Logo source: Locust Hill